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Karnataka Speaker orders probe into audio tape

In the clip former Chief Minister and BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa allegedly mentioned Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar’s name while in conversation with Nanganagiuda Kandakur’s son, Sharanagouda, on February 7.

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Bengaluru, Feb 11 (IANS) The Karnataka Assembly Speaker on Monday ordered an inquiry into an audio clip, released by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy last week to expose the BJPs alleged attempts to lure a JD-S MLA, that mentioned his name.

In the clip former Chief Minister and BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa allegedly mentioned Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar’s name while in conversation with Nanganagiuda Kandakur’s son, Sharanagouda, on February 7.

Playing the clip to the media here on February 8, Kumaraswamy and Sharanagouda alleged that Yeddyurappa agreed to pay an unspecified amount if Kandakur left the Janata Dal-Secular and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“I have asked the Chief Minister to form a Special Committee to inquire into the contents of the audio tape in which my name was mentioned,” Kumar told the members, after Congress Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Krishna Byre Gowda raised it in the Lower House of the Assembly.

Kumar also said the Committee must submit its report in the next 15 days.

Sharanagouda also claimed that Yeddyurappa told him that the Speaker could be booked by paying Rs 50 crore for not invoking the anti-defection law against Kandakur in the event of his defecting to the BJP from the JD-S.

Terming the reference to him in the audio tape as contempt of the House, Kumar said he was pained by his name being mentioned in the episode.

“Whichever MLA took my name in the audio tape must step out of politics or I should be out of politics. Such a statement is a contempt of the House,” Kumar told the legislators as the issue rocked the proceedings of the Budget Session.

The purported audio tape in Kannada was said to have been recorded on February 7, between Yeddyurappa and Sharanagouda at a guest house at Devadurga in Raichur district, about 480 km from here.

Yeddyurappa, however, on Sunday claimed that the audio tape was fabricated and its contents doctored though it was in his voice and accused Kumaraswamy of blackmailing him.

“I met Sharanagouda at Devadurga on February 7 and discussed many things. But the content in the audio tape is fabricated and its voice doctored,” Yeddyurappa told reporters at Hubballi.

Recalling what transpired between him and Sharanagouda, Yeddyurappa said he would retire from politics if Kumaraswamy would prove that he told Sharangouda money (Rs 50 crore) would be given to Kumar for not invoking the anti-defection law if Kandakur joined the BJP.

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Cloudy, foggy Saturday morning in Delhi

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delhi fog
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New Delhi, Feb 16: Delhiites on Saturday witnessed a cloudy and foggy morning with the minimum temperature recorded at 13 degrees Celsius, two notch above the season’s average.

“The sky will remain partly cloudy throughout the day,” an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.

The maximum temperature was likely to hover around 19 degrees Celsius. The humidity at 8.30 a.m. was recorded at 93 per cent while visibility was at 600 metres.

The Indian Railways said as many as 13 Delhi-bound trains were delayed due to fog and low visibility in several parts of northern India.

The overall air quality of the city remained in the ‘poor’ category with the Air Quality Index (AQI) reaching 225 as per the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting.

On Friday, the maximum temperature settled two notches below the average at 22 degrees Celsius and the minimum temperature was recorded at 11.8 degrees Celsius, a notch above the season’s average.

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Modi flags off Vande Bharat Express

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Train 18

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday flagged off the indigenous Train 18, renamed Vande Bharat Express, from the New Delhi railway station to his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi in the backdrop of the terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir which killed 45 troopers.

A sombre Modi told a gathering at the station that he was “grateful to designers and engineers behind Vande Bharat Express” which set off at 11.20 a.m.

The train will clock 160 km per hour — the fastest on the Indian rail network.

The Prime Minister said with “our sincerity and hard work in the last four and half years, we have tried to improve the railways”.

Earlier, Modi inspected the coaches and the engine cabin of the Vande Bharat Express along with senior railway officials.

The flagging off was delayed by over 80 minutes as Modi presided over a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security to discuss the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi and members of the Railway Board were on board the train on its inaugural journey.

Bookings on the Vande Bharat Express opened on Friday. All the seats of were booked within four hours.

The train, which will start replacing Shatabdi Express trains, will run between Delhi and Varanasi.

The train has been manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai.

The gleaming blue-nosed train comes fitted with world class amenities on board like high-speed on-board WiFi, GPS-based passenger information system, touch-free bio-vacuum toilets, LED lighting, mobile charging points and a climate control system that automatically adjusts the temperature.

The 16-coach train will have two executive compartments with 52 seats each and trailer coaches with 78 seats each.

The executive class will have rotating seats to match the direction of the train.

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Manjhi dares Modi to bring 420 chopped heads of terrorists

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Jitan Ram Manjhi

Patna, Feb 15 (IANS) Former Bihar Chief Minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi on Friday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring 420 chopped heads of terrorists to silent the boiling anger of Indians.

“Until the government led by Modi bring 420 chopped heads of terrorists, the boiling anger of people will not be silent,” he told the media here, reacting to Thursday’s terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir which left 45 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel dead and 38 injured.

Demanding why the government did not take any action, Manjhi said: “A country is not run merely by ‘jumlebazi’, the government has to do something concrete on the ground.”

He further said that the Modi government has so far failed to curb terror activities and this was reflected in what happened in Pulwama.

Manjhi said he shared the pain and grief of the families of those martyred.

Bihar Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav said that before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party had claimed to bring 10 chopped heads in revenge of one Indian killed but after winning, Modi went to Pakistan to eat biryani.

Yadav said he and his party – the Rashtriya Janata Dal – are with the families of the martyred CRPF personnel.

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